Locations identified in J&K, Himachal

Phalguna Jandhyala

New Delhi, Nov. 26 Glitnir, a Nordic investment bank, has tied up with the Rs 2,700-crore LNJ Bhilwara Group to set up geothermal power plants in India and Nepal.

“Though there has been a lot of talk in the geothermal space in India, very little has happened on the ground. So we want to be a catalyst to push this technology forward and since LNJ Bhilwara has the expertise in building and managing power plants, we have tied up with it ,” Mr Bala Kamallakharan, Executive Director of Glitnir, told Business Line.

According to him, the company has identified a couple of locations in Puga, Jammu and Kashmir, and in Tatapani, Himachal Pradesh. “But the temperature in Tatapani is lower as compared to Puga as per the data available in the public domain. So we want to do a pre-feasibility study to really understand what can be done in Tatapani,” Mr Kamallakharan added.

The company, however, has not decided on the exact location or the investments required for starting the work as more detailed research was being done. To begin with, Mr Kamallakharan said, the company was looking at a 5-MW project, similar to the one it set up in China. Geothermal means earth’s heat and geothermal energy can be harnessed from underground reservoirs containing hot rocks saturated with water or steam. “Boreholes, typically of one to three-km deep, are drilled into the reservoirs. The hot water and steam are then piped up to a geothermal power plant, where they are used to drive electric generators to create power for businesses and homes,” he said.

It is also considered a renewable resource because it exploits the earth’s interior heat, which is considered abundant, and water, once used and cooled, is then piped back to the reservoir.

According to Mr Kamallakharan, a geothermal power plant emits 35 times less carbon dioxide than an average coal power plant does per kilowatt of electricity produced. This is because the geothermal plants’ cooling towers emit mostly water vapour and do not emit particulates, hydrogen sulfide or nitrogen oxides.

“Though the initial capital required may be more than what the other power plants might require, once a geothermal power plant is operational, the per kilo watt unit is much cheaper,” he added.

The bank is also eyeing biomass, sea food and offshore supply vessels segment in India.

“We are talking to several companies to offer the role of a catalyst to accelerate the consolidation in the industry. We are, however, focused on small and mid-sized firms, which are neglected by other banks,” Mr Kamallakharan said.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated November 27, 2007)
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